As most Sydneysiders know, the former Star City Casino has undergone a major revamp and now is known as The Star. It now boasts much fancier shops and restaurants run by acclaimed chefs such as Black by Ezard, on the ground floor facing the harbour side of the casino complex. The chef who lends his name to the restaurant is Teage Ezard, who runs a two hatted restaurant in Melbourne and is now expanding his horizons by opening an upmarket steakhouse here in Sydney.
The restaurant is sleek and opulent, with gorgeous panoramic views and there is also a beautiful contemporary bar if you’re after a bit of a drink before you start your meal and this is where we end up tonight as we wait for our dining companions to turn up. The drinks menu is extensive but of course I am immediately drawn to the cocktails and I order a Brunch Cocktail which tastes of fresh citrus flavours such as mandarin and grapefruit, a good pick for the girls.
Brunch Cocktail, $18
When our friends arrive they also order a couple of cocktails from the charming bar manager, the Leisure Suit and a Velvet Martini. I had actually been eyeing off the Leisure Suit which contains elderflower and it was quite fragrant as expected, whereas the martini was a bit too strong for my tastes (actually reminded me a bit of the bitterness of Chinese herbal medicine).
Leisure Suit and Velvet Martini (around $18)
We are then escorted to our table along with our freshly made drinks and are impressed by the plush leather furnishings, from the comfortable chairs to the pebbled leather placemats. The boy and I have already got our hearts set on the signature dish of Organic Farm Egg as our entree while our friends opt for the prawns to start.
Brioche loaf (complimentary)
The waiter brings out a complimentary loaf of mini brioche bread, butter and some black salt. I am intrigued by the black salt and sprinkle some onto the brioche after I slather the creamy soft butter on top. The brioche and butter are both unbelievably soft, and the salt is intensely flavoured delivering hits of savoury to counter the slight sweetness of the brioche.
It’s not too long before our dishes arrive and our entree is beautifully presented – crunchy shredded pastry on top and a slow cooked egg enveloped with light potato cream sauce, shaved black truffles, herb salad and some iberico ham. I almost can’t bear to destroy it with my spoon but eventually we tentatively break into the pastry to also crack through the egg with its runny yolk. It is a glorious medley of flavours, which is saying something since I don’t even like eggs but here the strong flavours from the truffle and potato cream bring out the savoury freshness of the egg and the shredded pastry adds a satisfying crunch and texture. The ham is just like proscuitto, intense salty flavour condensed into a wafer thin slice of meat and this adds another layer of savouriness to the dish.
Organic Farm Egg $34
We are already blown away by our entree and see why it is the signature dish of the restaurant but our friends are also enjoying their prawns which have been poached in butter, with corn salad and wood grilled watermelon. It is a much sweeter entree due to the corn and the watermelon is interesting, tastes softer than a fresh watermelon but retains its juicy flavour and has a hint of charcoal to it.
Butter poached prawns $25
Part of the hype of the restaurant is that it uses extraordinary cooking methods for both its steaks and its seafood. The steaks are cooked “sous-vide” which Wikipedia tells me is French for “under vacuum” and is a method where the meat is sealed in plastic bags in a water bath for a couple of days at a pre-determined temperature (lower than normal temps for cooking) to ensure the meat is cooked evenly and stays juicy. Afterwards the meat is woodgrilled as per usual. The seafood on the other hand, is poached in special Hawaiian deep sea water. Needless to say, we are all keen to find out whether our mains (a couple of steaks and a couple of fish dishes) live up to all the fuss that the cooking methods would suggest.
I have chosen the Ocean Trout which is pan roasted, with a heirloom carrot salad, orange scented lentils, carrot emulsion and crispy bacon. It is gorgeously arranged on the plate and the serving of fish underneath all the shredded vegetables is quite generous. The fish itself is nicely cooked so that it retains its moisture and the fresh flavours of the ocean trout shine through but sadly, I cannot taste the Hawaiian sea water it has been poached in. I am not a huge fan of the carrots; they are soft but do not add anything to the flavour of the dish and the lentils offer a strange texture in contrast to the smoothness of the fish. The bacon is a bit random, very crisp as it has been dehydrated but I prefer the crunchy pieces of fish skin that are peppered all throughout the dish to add a burst of saltiness. There are also a couple of bits of fresh mandarin which don’t really go with the overall flavour of the dish.
Ocean Trout $42
The standout seafood dish of the night is the Hapuka which my friend ordered and demolished in a flash. It is served with cauliflower, crustacean vinaigrette and shellfish oil, which all bring out the flavour of the delicately cooked white hapuka fish and in this dish you can actually taste the fresh seawater. Very jealous I didn’t order this myself but thanks H for letting me taste it!
Onto the steaks – we have not ordered any sides, only sauces so when they serve the dishes to us the plates look hilariously bare in contrast to our seafood dishes which are overflowing with garnishings. Fortunately the beef was very impressive, extremely soft and tender but still retaining its gamey flavour and it tasted more seared rather than grilled, which helped it maintain its juiciness.
Filet (200g grass fed angus) $45
Rib eye ( 400g dry aged grass fed angus) $52
The filet looks like a little rock of meat but is very flavoursome according to my friend and made her eyes light up after the first bite because it was so delicious. The housemade BBQ sauce that she ordered with it was quite sweet, in contrast to the savouriness of the marrow and shallot sauce which we ordered with the rib eye. The marrow sauce was served in a cute miniature copper pan with onions rather than shallots mixed through the dark brown broth that was the marrow itself, which tastes a bit heartier than stock. The rib eye had quite a bit of fat still attached to it which we cut off but was impressively tender otherwise.
This lavish new restaurant in The Star is definitely worth the trek across the Pyrmont Bridge if you are looking for premium meat and seafood in a fine dining setting. The restaurant is brimming with energy and luxurious touches, so come here to treat yourself, especially if you’ve just had a lucky run at the casino upstairs.
Black by Ezard
Level G, Harbourside,
The Star, 80 Pyrmont Street
Pyrmont NSW 2009
(Closed on Mondays)